Please enjoy this visual guide and explore the links under the pictures. It is a work in progress to provide information and examples of the two to three thousand of species of moths in our area. Thank you for visiting!
Note: Uncredited pictures are my own and available for use with appropriate credit © Elliott Gordon
75% of families, 35% of described species. Mostly internal feeders aka leaf miners.
Prodoxidae – Yucca Moths and Allies
Heliodinidae – Sun Moths
Sun moths are tiny, diurnal, and uncommon, but they are a personal favorite. In our area, most caterpillars are known to feed on plants in the 4-o’clock family, Nyctaginaceae, and the adults visit a wide range of flowers.
Gelechioidea – Flower Moth, Cosmet Moths, and more
25% of families, 65% of described species
Sphingidae – Hawk, Clearwing, and Sphinx Moths
Large, mostly nocturnal. Able to hover like hummingbirds. Larvae with prominent horn (hornworms) often feeding on nightshade family, like tomatoes.
Saturniidae – Giant Silk Moths
Large, mostly nocturnal. Broad, triangular forewing and many have “eye”-spots on hindwing. Larvae with spines or hairs.
Crambidae – Snout and Mint Moths
Tortricidae – Leafroller Moths
Geometridae – Geometer Moths
Small to large, mostly nocturnal. Pattern frequently extends from forewing onto hindwing with both visible while resting. Larvae are inchworms and pests of many crops and common, landscaping trees.
Notodontidae – Prominent Moths
Medium, nocturnal. When resting, wings are vertical, forming a tube shape.
Erebidae – Tiger, Lichen, and Tussock Moths
Medium to large, nocturnal. Many with bold patterns on forewing and brightly colored hingwing. Larvae appear woolly with stinging hairs.
Noctuidae – Owlet, Cutworm, Dart, and Looper Moths
Medium to large, nocturnal. Some species fold one wing over the other when resting. Look for pair of round and kidney-shaped spots arranged vertically. Many species have subtle patterns and well-camouflaged larvae.